San Francisco’s election season is just getting under way, but it’s never too early for scandals both big and, well, silly. It seemed more the latter when former Supervisor Tony Hall attempted to meet an endorsement deadline to support business owner Bob Squeri for his former seat representing The City’s southwestern District 7.
An original written endorsement statement, filed on Aug. 7, came in while Hall was out of town and did not appear to match his signature. When Elections Department officials asked about it, another statement came in three days later, still not matching Hall’s distinct autograph. Three days later — bingo. Hall himself showed up at City Hall to clear the record.
All three endorsement papers remain in Squeri’s election filing. Hall said on Friday that he’s not sure why there were questions about the first two signatures and that he sometimes signs his name in different ways.
“They’re all my signatures,” Hall said. “I had been out of town for three weeks, so I filled out another statement and faxed it to them. Then I was told last Saturday that the Ethics Commission had questions about it.”
Presented with the notion that the signatures varied greatly in appearance, Hall backed off the statement somewhat and said he’s not entirely sure he signed three endorsement statements.
“I think I did, but I can’t say 100 percent,” Hall said, adding that whatever the case, he fully supports Squeri and the situation does not amount to “any kind of big deal.”
David Levine, a law professor at UC Hastings, concurred.
“That sounds like pretty small potatoes,” Levine said. “If he happened to be out of town, it doesn’t seem like anyone was trying to defraud the elections bureau. Probably they should not have done it, but it seems pretty minor.”
John Arntz, the Elections Department director, said his office was simply doing due diligence when the first two signatures didn’t match others in the database.
“To see nomination papers twice like that — that’s not usual,” Arntz said. “Usually if we find signatures that don’t match, we would refer it to the DA’s office.”
Arntz declined to say whether the District Attorney’s Office had been notified in this case. Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney, said much the same.
“We neither confirm nor deny an investigation,” Bastian said.
Squeri did not return requests for comment, although a campaign worker named Christopher — who would not reveal his title or his last name — spoke on his behalf.
“Tony was out of town so he asked that one of his friends submit a statement on his behalf,” Christopher said. “Basically there was just a miscommunication that happened.”